My Silent War with the Tooth Fairy

A milestone is coming in our household. My daughter is about to lose not one, but two teeth. This is an exciting moment for any child and family. I find myself, however, feeling torn and unsure of what to do with this event. Why? Well…because I hate the tooth fairy.

I know it’s awful. This is one of the most magical parts of childhood in America. How could I possibly hate the tooth fairy? The reason is simple, really. It’s not so much the tooth fairy that’s the problem (it is awfully hard to direct an emotion as powerful as hate in the direction of something that doesn’t exist) the issue for me is lying to my daughter. It makes me very uncomfortable and it goes against everything that I believe about being a parent. Yet, it would be terrible if I didn’t go through with the charade, right?

A big part of my emotional struggle with this situation is my daughter. She truly believes in fairies. She builds houses for them in the backyard and leaves chocolate chips out for them to eat. She dresses like a fairy and she sits in the yard and talks with them. She draws pictures of fairies. She writes stories about fairies. You get the picture.

Up to this point I have been very honest with her about everything…pretty much. This is where I have to confess that we actually do the Santa Claus thing because I’m pretty sure we would have been disowned by her grandparents if we didn’t. But I get extremely uncomfortable around Christmas and my husband and I avoid the topic of Santa as much as we possibly can. Although she is only five, I already find myself secretly hoping that she will figure out the lie at a very early age all on her own.

I have told her the truth from the first time she asked me if I thought that fairies were real, “No”. She has asked me this several times and each time she responds to me with a wagging finger saying, “You know, mom, you just killed a fairy.” These are the moments where I pause and ask myself, “Am I an excellent mother or a terrible mother?” The jury is still out on this one, we’ll ask her therapist to weigh-in twenty years from now.

We have managed to avoid the Easter Bunny altogether and it doesn’t seem to be a big deal to her at all. But fairies are different. She is fascinated with them. This fascination actually bothers me a tiny bit. I am a hardcore realist. I like the truth and I like it to be as precise as possible. I also like the truth because inside the truth lies reality. It is so important to me that my daughter grow up understanding that reality is a wonderful place to be. I do not want her to unconsciously absorb a message that adults make up fantasies and imaginary scenarios for children because the real world is not magical enough. I can’t bear to think that I ever contributed to her thinking that escapism in any form is the only way to find pleasure in life. I want her to be comfortable with the spectacularly ordinary magic of reality.

I find my anxiety building steadily these days. Those two teeth aren’t just a little loose, they are truly ready to go at any minute…and I don’t have a plan. My husband is right there with me. We both feel weird about lying to our daughter. We are so honest with her that sometimes it shocks people.

Daughter: “Daddy, is this blood on my plate?”

Daddy: “Yes it is. You are eating a dead mammal.”

Daughter: “Mmmm. It’s the blood that makes it taste so good.”

Anyone not in our family: “GASP!”

Although some people are clearly uncomfortable with how honest we are with our daughter, I really stand by this parenting strategy. Honesty is just so much easier than story management. Lies are nothing but emotional clutter. Not only that, but I want her to see me as a trusted source of information for anything she needs. This will come in handy ten years from now. If I constantly soften reality and make up white lies for her, it keeps her cushioned for now but she will eventually discover the truth. Part of that truth would be that I am not always a trusted source of information. This is a disaster for a sturdy relationship with a teenager.

Now that I have laid out my very logical argument for not going along with this tooth fairy business I have to say this, I’m still tempted to do it. Although there is a part of me that is bothered by my daughter’s fascination with fairies, there is another part of me that relishes it. She is using this interest to fuel all sorts of play activities that are clearly building her executive function. I also love that she sees the world as a magical place, without us making it artificially magic for her. If the tooth fairy doesn’t come, she might not believe in fairies anymore. This to me seems terribly sad and I think that I would feel some enormous guilt.

Although the majority of the parenting advice I write is very certain and clear. I leave this one with questions. Is it crazy that I even find myself having this dilemma? Do any of you not do the tooth fairy? What do you think I should do? Seriously, tell me. I’m at a loss…




~ by vegucationmama on April 30, 2012.

One Response to “My Silent War with the Tooth Fairy”

  1. Why did I rate this article only 3 stars? Because I think you are over thinking this. You seem very good at recalling childhood details (I on the otherhand only have very vague memories). So you were raised by a mom who didn’t say that the dead dog on the side of the road was “sleeping” – I said “he didn’t look before he crossed the street” – but I also tucked quarters under your pillow. Was that confusing for you? If you want her to believe in fairies (she has apparently already told you that YOU are wrong for disbelieving – so she is solid in her faith) – then just go with the flow for now… she’ll let you know when it isn’t fun or exciting or believable for her anymore. You don’t have to believe – she does. This is small stuff.

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